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Our view: Lifesavers among us

Kudos to Curtis Sahli, Justin Jackson, Rod Raymond, Colgan Norman and Randy Carlson. These five Duluthians received the Lifesaver Award from the Duluth Fire Department for using CPR and an automated external defibrillator (AED) to stabilize Ed Kn...

Kudos to Curtis Sahli, Justin Jackson, Rod Raymond, Colgan Norman and Randy Carlson.

These five Duluthians received the Lifesaver Award from the Duluth Fire Department for using CPR and an automated external defibrillator (AED) to stabilize Ed Knutson while he was having a heart attack in the University of Minnesota Duluth Rec Sports locker room area Oct. 9, 2006.

Sahli, a 22-year-old biology student at UMD, heard Knutson wheezing around the corner in the locker room, the official report noted.

Lucky for Knutson, the university had installed 22 AED units two years before and trained a number of faculty and staff how to use them. All five of the men who got awards this week had at least some CPR training.

But the congratulations shouldn't stop there.

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Kudos to the folks on the UMD safety committee, who originally recommended that the university get the AEDs.

According to Norbert Norman, director of environmental health and safety, the university installed the 22 units at a cost of $50,000 -- plus five more since then. Included with the kits are a CPR mask and rubber gloves, among other items.

The university also held between 40 to 50 classes, training close to 500 people how to use the units.

"There are visible and verbal instructions," said Norman, noting that three of the people who worked together to save Knutson had been trained on the machines. "It's more a case of letting people get comfortable with the machines so they can see how easy they are to use."

The machines are located in areas the public can access, and they are evenly spaced around campus.

"We're pretty well covered now," Norman said. "You want (an AED) within about two minutes of anywhere on campus, because after four minutes a person will begin to suffer brain damage."

In the two years since UMD installed the machines, two people have been revived using the defibrillators. The first person, a staff member, was successfully revived, but died a few days later in the hospital of another heart attack. Knutson is doing well.

"We're very happy with the machines," said Norman. "For $50,000, well, how much of a price do you put on a life?"

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Over the past few months, thanks to a grant, the Duluth Police Department has also put AED units in almost half of its squad cars -- one out of each patrol district -- and the officers are trained to use them.

Bravo to the city. Police are usually the first ones on the scene, so it makes sense for them to carry the lifesaving devices.

Why not take a great idea one step further, Duluth, and put an AED in every single police car?

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